For the Small Business Edge “5 in Five” podcast, I recently spoke with Melissa Campanelli, Co-founder of Women in Retail Leadership Circle, and the Brand and Content Director for Total Retail. We discussed the state of retail and what to expect for the upcoming holiday season. Below are excerpts from our conversation.
Brian Moran: What is Women in Retail Leadership Circle?
Melissa Campanelli: Women in Retail Leadership Circle is a networking group of approximately 500 senior level women in the retail space that’s been in existence for about 10 years. We send out a weekly newsletter, conduct peer group calls, and host events.
Brian: Congrats on your success with the group. Let’s do our “5 in Five.” First question, are retailers ready for the upcoming holidays?
Melissa: In short, I would say “yes.” Retailers are aware of the issues that they must deal with (supply chain, labor, rising costs, and a potential recession) and they are working hard to mitigate them.
Additionally, we are seeing that consumer spending has slowed down. Retailers must now consider lowering prices, create promotions, and keep track of their inventory.
Brian: You mentioned supply chain. Will there be similar shipping and logistic issues that happened last holiday season?
Melissa: Retailers will face delays and they will pay more for shipping this year. We suggest looking at different suppliers and shipping routes. However, some retailers are dealing with an influx of inventory due to past worries about pandemic shipping delays. Some businesses increased their orders. Today, with inflation and price sensitive shoppers, they are potentially seeing too much inventory.
Brian: Will seasonal help be available for small retailers this year? If not, what are alternate options?
Melissa: In a word, no. I read in a recent Korn Ferry report that half of all retailers believe they will have a tough time attracting employees for the upcoming holiday season. Other options could be changing store hours and suggesting that customers buy online as early as possible.
Brian: Are retailers concerned that everything on the business side goes right this year, but consumer demand plummets?
Melissa: There are several studies that show consumer spending this holiday season won't change considerably. But we cannot ignore the current economic crisis; it will affect holiday season profitability.
Brian: If you are a small retailer, what financial moves would you make now to ensure a smooth holiday season for your business?
Melissa: I would focus on lowering prices and increase promotions. I would also focus on ramping up my loyalty program. I want consumers that are coming in for the low prices to join the program and then become a loyal customer.
Brian: Thanks Melissa.